Through an empty school corridor, I walked hastily toward an open door. After three straight days of procrastination, and with a busy weekend looming, this Friday lunch hour was my last chance to lesson plan for next week. Determined to make the most of it, I shuffled down the concrete steps, and headed straight for the nearest “CU”. “Yoeboseyo” a friendly clerk greeted me as I rushed toward the back shelf, where several rows of my beloved Kimbap sat neatly on the middle shelf.
A stark contrast to gas station snacks of the states, at 1,500 krw for a pair (roughly $1.50), and available at any CU, Minimart, or 7 eleven, these little prisms of nutrition have become a go to of mine. “Ohbagchun won” I presented my “Hana” card.
Sat in a flimsy plastic chair outside, I peeled the ribbon of golden foil, revealing that delicious flaky seaweed coating. I took a bite, and there it was. A savory sausage chunk of unknown composition, but delectable flavor assaulted my taste buds with delight.
Had I known this was sausage, I would have chosen otherwise, but then again, the surprise of that first bite is just part of my Kimbap experience. I never know exactly what I’ll be eating, but time and time again these convenience store snacks have provided me with consistently quality nourishment for next to no cost.
So, why am I writing this? Well, a little over a year ago, after an overwhelming frustration with factory farming, and the questionable, yet convincing propaganda of “what the health” I began eating a limited diet. Comprised almost entirely of non-meat options, and the occasional addition of seafood, I was, what most would call a “pescatarian”. For nearly an entire year I ate vegetables, salads, nuts, meat alternatives, the occasional salmon fillet, and a whole lot of carbs.
But, with an impending move to a meat loving culture, I questioned my commitment to the cause. At orientation I ate mainly seafood, and for the first week or two after, I relied heavily on noodles and rice. I picked out the meat of numerous dishes and informed my co-teachers of my diet. But, after weeks of carb induced hunger and numerous food comas, I gave in. Now several weeks later, and I’m a full-fledged omnivore.
The issue of meat consumption, and of factory farming is far more complicated than black or white or yes and no. It’s one that should be considered deeply, and as an individual. For one year I sacrificed my cravings in hopes of sparing at least one animal from the horrors of the factory, but after much thought, I’ve made the difficult decision to now prioritize my health. In the states, where fresh produce and meat alternatives are readily available at almost any local grocery, my decision was easy, but here in Korea, it’s either eat healthy, or eat morally, there really is no in-between.
Appreciate every bite. Cheers.